" I've just done what I enjoy doing and had so much fun in the process. The award will just always remind me of that."
The honour was presented by HRH the Princess Royal, President of the RYA at the organisation’s annual Volunteer Awards ceremony held at London’s One Great George Street on 21 November.
Russell , who is in the second year of a four year masters degree course in Mechanical Engineering at Liverpool University, was nominated for his award by members of Pilkington Sailing Club and was selected as a winner by the Awards panel for his contribution both there and at the University.
Russell started sailing at the age of 12 on an RYA level 2 course held at Pilkington Sailing Club for his school. It helped that his father was also interested in the sport and he helped him to restore an old Enterprise dinghy at the age of 13.
At that age he took his Powerboat Level 2 qualification so he could use the safety boats and followed that up recently with a qualification as a dinghy instructor which he uses both at Pilkington and at the university where he teaches novices the RYA level 2 course at West Kirby where they sare the water.
At Pilkington, Russell has refined his boat restoration skills with another Enterprise rescued from scrap in the boat house. The club provided the funding for the wood and materials over the two years it took to finish. This boat is now used as one of the club boats for Southport 12 and 24 races as well as for training.
He is now rebuilding a 1954 Firefly which is nearing completion. It is almost completely original and is going to be used for teaching and for personal use in the club races.
"Sailing to me is an escape and a community where everyone has a common interest. It's something I enjoy and something I can continuously learn in. There are so many different skills within sailing that doesn't just include being in a boat on the water. The feeling you get from working on a classic dinghy and putting hours into one to then see it on the water and you sailing gives you a feeling of pride," says Russell.
"Teaching and aiding people has always been something I enjoy and being able to do that for something I love is the perfect combination for me. Passing on skills and showing others what is possible with determination and inspiring people to try things themselves is something so great to do. "
"The pride you get from helping someone or just being around people that appreciate what you do to me is a far better personal award than any ceremony or official award can ever be," he concludes.